Nutmegs, hair pulling, and a spectacular golazo: the USWNT's first big test before the 2020 Olympics had it all

  • The US Women's National Team faced its first big test in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Thursday night.
  • Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and the rest of the USWNT notched a 2-0 victory over the England Lionesses in their first of three games in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup.
  • Striker Christen Press drilled a curling beauty from outside the box to open the scoring in the 53rd minute of play.
  • Moments prior, England's Georgia Stanway pulled American forward Tobin Heath down to the turf by her hair.
  • The game — which marked 100 caps for star midfielder Julie Ertz — also featured a devastating nutmeg from Kelley O'Hara, a beautiful left-footed goal from Lloyd, and many more highlights.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US Women's National Team extended their undefeated streak to 29 games Thursday in its first of three SheBelieves Cup games this week.

And, reader, this game had everything.

The USWNT's 2-0 victory against the England Lionesses featured an early missed call in the box, an absolute golazo from striker Christen Press, a hair-pulling incident involving forward Tobin Heath, a beautiful, left-footed strike from Carli Lloyd, a redemption nutmeg for Kelley O'Hara, and a number of gorgeous saves from Alyssa Naeher.

Let's take it from the top.

Early on in the game, Heath was creeping into England's box on the attack and defender Alex Greenwood made contact with the prolific USWNT striker on the challenge. Heath fell to the ground but didn't get the whistle.

Some fans were furious over the no-call. Others suggested Heath may have flopped. Take a look:

Despite the US dominating possession and having multiple chances near the goal — including a promising shot on net from Lloyd — neither side broke through in the opening 45 minutes.

The goals started coming in the second half, though. But not before England gave the US some motivation to fight back.

In the 52nd minute, England's Georgia Stanway pulled Heath down to the turf by her hair just outside the 18-yard box. This time, she was awarded a foul.

On the other end of the field, Press finally put the USWNT on the board with an absolutely outstanding curler. She collected a feed from Lloyd just outside the box, took a single touch to create space for herself, and launched a bender into the corner of the net.

As Insider's Cork Gaines pointed out, ESPN's Sebastian Salazar couldn't help but let out a groan of appreciation upon seeing the side-angle replay of Press' golazo.

Just two minutes later, Lloyd added to her already-impressive performance with a close-range goal to put the US up by two. Midfielder Lindsey Horan — who led the US in Olympic qualifying with six goals through five games — sent a gorgeous chip ball over the Lionesses' back line and onto Lloyd's right foot. The veteran striker took one more touch before ripping a left-footed shot into the back of the net.

Even outside defender Kelley O'Hara got in on the offensive action. She brought the ball up the flank and left a defender in the dust before crossing the ball into the box.

Quite an improvement on this moment from Olympic qualifiers.

Though the scoring would end there, midfielder Julie Ertz — who registered her 100th international appearance with the team Thursday night — nearly netted a goal herself before she was called offside.

Her husband, Philadelphia Eagles star tight end Zach Ertz, tweeted his congratulations to the 2019 US Soccer Female Player of the Year at match end.

Finally, the Lionesses had an opportunity to chip away at the US lead late in the match, but the USWNT's star keeper made a daring save right off the line to keep England off the board.

Both squads will be back in action Sunday for the second leg of the SheBelieves Cup. The Lionesses will take on Japan early in the afternoon before the USWNT faces off against Spain at 5 p.m. Both contests will take place at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, and they will air on ESPN3 and ESPN, respectively.

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